What Machine Do I Need?


So…you think you might like to try piecing a quilt block and maybe even make a table topper, but do not want to invest in an expensive sewing machine. You have looked at some in various quilting shops and the price tags are staggering, especially for the beginner who is not sure they will even like the hobby (really, who will not like quilting?).


I will be the first to tell you that I have four machines, two of the high-end ones that do a little bit of everything and two that are in the low to medium price. For general piecing they all work well. The smaller ones are used for travel and classes. They are lighter in weight and easier to pack than my large computer ones. In fact, I started out quilting on an inexpensive Singer that basically just went forward and backward. The machine sewed beautifully and when I purchased my second machine, I sold my 25 year old Singer for $25 and the last I heard (2019) the buyer was still using it.


The point of this is to let you know that you do not have to make a huge investment to see if quilting is for you. Some of my friends use their Singer Featherweights strictly for piecing and those machines have been around for a hundred years and just go forward and reverse. They are mighty, but small, workhorses. You can spend a lot of money on them, but also can find bargains. Recently, a friend found one in a thrift shop that family members had donated. It was a steal for my friend. Also, with less technology, they are easier to maintain and keep in good working order.


You can pick up basic sewing machines at garage sales and estate sales for small prices and they will serve you well. I recommend asking the seller to demonstrate the stitch to you so you can see that the machine works.


You can also find inexpensive machines at some retailers that will enable you to get started and can last you for a long time. One of my first students came to class with a machine that had belonged to her mom, it was old and had no bells or whistles, but it sewed a nice straight stitch and she could mark the ¼” seam on the throat plate. Her mom had purchased the machine for $75 new from a discount store. She became one of my most accomplished students and to this day still uses that machine for going to class.


As you get into piecing and quilt making, you may find that you want some “bells and whistles.”  If that happens, there are many websites devoted to helping you choose the machine that is “right” for you. Make a list of features that you think you want or need. I recommend that you take that list and go to as many shops as possible and “test drive” all the different machines. You will then have some firsthand experience before you purchase.


However, that little old machine might serve you just as well and you can spend your money on fabric and patterns!


Happy Quilting!


I’m a resident in Central Illinois and welcome your comments. Please let me know if there is a quilting topic you would like to talk about. Contact me at [email protected].


For additional informative and inspirational articles, visit 50 Plus News and Views Greater Peoria Area online edition today.

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